“Free” Money!

The Holiday Season is here and when it comes deciding what gifts we’d like to give our friends and family most of us are somewhere on the spectrum between vaguely conceptualizing that it may be about time to start shopping and picking up a few of those last-minute items. I won’t divulge where I am on that spectrum, but if you’re like me, your giving list will probably include a few gift cards or maybe even some cash. I used to feel a little guilty giving gift cards but lately I’ve been reconsidering them as a potentially thoughtful gift.

When you receive a gift card it allows you to spend money on something you’d really enjoy but might not otherwise buy for yourself or to buy something you like without having that feeling that you really should be spending the money on something else. There’s just something fun about the feeling of spending “free” money. In fact, I have a friend who loves to receive gift cards for Christmas. But what she really loves is holding on to them for months anticipating what she might buy with her sudden windfall of “free” money.

With that in mind, what if I told you there was a way you could score some “free” money for yourself in under 10 minutes time. You may not know this but state governments currently hold nearly $30 billion in unclaimed assets. It’s usually money related to moving, like a utility company owing you a refund, or sometimes it’s a relative that passed away and left you money but forgot to tell you.

I recently spent a few minutes searching under my name (and my family member’s names) and found $50 that the state of North Carolina was holding for me. I went through the claiming process and a check from the NC State Treasury showed up in our mailbox in less than two weeks! Ok, so it’s not free because it takes a few minutes of research and technically it was mine to begin with but it sure was fun finding fifty bucks that I didn’t know I had. It’s kind of like finding a twenty-dollar bill in the pocket of your jeans that you haven’t worn for a year only with this you could find larger amounts. A friend of a friend found $10,000!

I know this sounds a bit gimmicky and any money you discover probably won’t change your life but it’s kinda fun to just check. Interested? Click here to begin your search.  And don’t forget to check in every state in which you’ve lived.

Let us know if you find any unclaimed money. We’d love to hear your story!

*A few cautions: Many legitimate companies use states’ freedom of information acts to obtain owner information for unclaimed accounts. They contact individuals and offer to help find lost property for a fee (often a percentage of the total). This is the same information you can find yourself, for free.

Also, beware of emails or letters purporting to be from the state treasurer asking you to supply personal information — either by mail or by logging into a link provided. This is how many cases of identity theft begin. If in doubt, contact your state treasurer or controller’s office to ensure the contact was legitimate.


Geoff Hall, CFP®
[email protected]

My wife, Crystal, and I have been married for 11 years and have two kids, Cooper (10) and Rhodes (8.) When I’m not spending time with them you might find me downtown serving at our church, pushing my limits during a mountain bike ride or having coffee with a friend in the Five Points area. I've been a financial advisor for 29 years and I'm thankful for the privilege of shepherding my family of clients through the ups and down of the markets, and of life for that matter.